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Travel, Teach, Live in Europe and Middle East

How to Teach Art in Europe
By:Amanda Stovall

Europe is the perfect melting pot of art instruction, cultural studies, and history. With so many art schools, notable painters, sculptors, and other artists based in Europe, Europe is a prime location for an art teacher. Before teaching in Europe, American citizens will have to jump through several administrative and bureaucratic hurdles in order to take up residence overseas, but these can be easily transitioned through with thoughtful planning in advance. With a large US military and diplomatic presence in Europe, there are American schools located throughout the continent. It is also possible to seek employment with a local school, though this would require fluent skills in the country's language.

Find a school in Europe that offers art or is hiring art teachers. If living in America, there are three channels a job seeker should go through.

The first is to start an internet search for schools in the country or city where you'd like to relocate. Use search terms that include the country's name, a particular city, and words like "school" or "education." It is advised to search in the language of the country where you're looking, as a local school's website may not be in English and thus will yield no search results for those conducted in English.

The second channel is to contact a US embassy in the country in which you wish to relocate. An embassy will have information on everything about the local economy, including the names, location, and contact information of schools.

The third channel is to go through an employment agency, and this can include an agency located in the US that specializes in citizens seeking jobs abroad, or an agency based in the country where you'd like to relocate.

The best time to begin a job search for teaching positions is in the early to late spring. Schools that would hire English speaking teachers include international schools, the Department of Defense dependent schools (schools for military families stationed overseas), and the U.S. Department of State, which has schools across the globe for diplomats and their families. Most job applications can be completed on the internet.

Enter a teacher accreditation program if you do not already have a teaching license in the US. These programs can be based in a college or in a non-traditional setting, and both will lead to a teacher's license. American schools overseas accept accredited teaching licenses through state reciprocity.

Get an America passport. If you have one, check the expiration date. The post office in most cities has applications for passports, and receiving one will cost $85. It may take six weeks to arrive so be sure to apply for a passport well in advance of all plans to leave the US.

Submit a visa application at the consulate offices or embassy building of the country you wish to inhabit. Sometimes a job must be secured before an applicant can request a visa, in which case a passport and verification documents from the school where you will work must be presented. If you are a civilian, or not in the capacity of military service already, you will need a visa to take up residence in another country.

After arriving in Europe, check in with the school where you will be working to find your classroom, learn what supplies will be available through the school, and what your contracted duties are. If you are working in a local school that is not American-run or suited for international studies with an English speaking faculty, be prepared for full English language immersion.

If the school is a local school with native speakers in the classroom, it is crucial to become familiar with the backgrounds and culture of your students as soon as you encounter them. This will help in both communication, building rapport, and lesson planning.

An embassy school or a military school will necessitate similar preparations, as local children often can attend American schools by paying tuition, and embassy children and military families often encompass personnel that are not from the US.

Before you begin to plan lessons for an art class, familiarize yourself with all of the curriculum requirements mandated by the school where you have been hired. All lessons taught should be planned and implemented with the difficulty level and subject matter dictated by the school kept in mind.

Some principals will require teachers to submit lesson plans for review prior to their being taught. Despite the fact that most of Europe's countries are integrated into the European Union, there is no single European set of academic standards for all countries. Rather, each country--and, in some countries, each city--will have their own academic standards and regulations that you must familiarize yourself with.

This will also be differentiated between private schools and public schools, where private schools typically have higher expectations and requirements for graduation. If your post has been secured in Germany, note that you may be teaching students up to 19 or 20 years old, as the German school system is 13 years as opposed to 12.

Become familiar with the new city where you are located, especially the art history of the city, the architecture, and famous artists who are located in or from the region. Incorporate these elements into lessons to achieve a year of art study that is holistic and enriching beyond simple drawing instruction.

For example, if you are going to be teaching art in Paris, take full advantage of the proximity of museums like the Louvre, or the Musee d'Orsay. In Berlin, integrate architecture, history, and art by taking students on a tour of the city and pointing out the differences between pre- and post-WWII architecture. In Madrid, take students to see Picasso's warehouse-sized Guernica painting when studying abstract art, or if living and working in Rome, arrange a trip to the Vatican to help students study the evolution and influence of Christian iconographic art.

Take full advantage of Europe's history, culture, and expansive art collections to teach students far more about art than they could learn by simply painting in a studio.

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